Grant Galatas had never seen mountains or palm trees before he arrived in San Francisco shortly after the New Year. But the Kansas City native got to experience much more than a Northern California winter during his quarter at Northwestern’s Bay Area location in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.
The 16,000-square-foot site, which boasts newly renovated classrooms, plus spaces for student and alumni events, launched in 2016 and is home to several Northwestern academic programs in engineering, journalism, law and business.
Galatas was one of 18 undergraduate students who participated in the first Farley Bay Area Quarter, a new program offered by Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation that provides classes in tech ethics, product management and venture fundraising, as well as an experiential seminar that includes externships at a range of tech companies. The companies — many led by Northwestern alums — provide an insider’s view of the culture of innovation in the Bay Area.
For example, several students shadowed LogicMonitor CEO Christina Crawford Kosmowski ’98 and her executive team, while others spent an afternoon at Liftoff with Rob Goldman ’92, who serves on the board of the mobile app monetization startup.
“On my externship at Taelor, which one of my professors [Anya Cheng ’08] co-founded, I was surprised by how deeply involved the co-founders were with operations,” says two-time startup founder Steven Jiang, a Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences junior. “They were shipping packages themselves and ironing clothes. Then they met with a salesperson and immediately went right back to work. I was exhausted at the end of the day. Watching what they do every day has inspired me and shown me what I need to do with my own company.” (Learn how Jiang, an entrepreneur and economics major, is using social media to promote his two startup companies.)
Students also participated in field trips throughout the Bay Area, visiting companies including Google and Lilac Solutions, a lithium supply company founded by Farley alum David Snydacker ’16 PhD. Sharmila Shahani Mulligan ’88, ’94 MBA hosted a lunch panel of leading venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, while Cruise vice president of global government affairs Prashanthi Rao Raman ’04 arranged for a visit to a company testing facility.
“This program is a unique opportunity for our students to have transformational learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom,” says Hayes Ferguson, Farley Center director and a clinical associate professor in the McCormick School of Engineering.
“This program has completely redefined my trajectory, exposed me to flavors of innovation I never thought I’d be interested in and got me to understand myself a lot better,” says School of Communication senior Kate Lee, who plans to move to San Francisco this summer for a job that she secured thanks to an introduction from Goldman.
Lee will become the product manager at web3 Platforms, an early-stage startup. “I’ll be working on something that could fundamentally change how society experiences the internet, which is mind-blowing,” Lee says. “This is a testament to how transformative this program is. I hope it will continue to create opportunities for future Farley students.”